SHEPHERDSTOWN — Shepherd University’s women’s basketball team has cracked the top 10 in the most recent D2SIDA Women’s Basketball Atlantic Region poll.
The Rams are No. 9 in the rankings as of Monday, Nov. 15.
After almost two years of no basketball to speak of, Shepherd has come back this season with authority.
Through four games, the Rams are unbeaten. One of those wins came against a top-10 regional team. Shepherd defeated No. 7 Bowie State on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 74-56 at Butcher Center.
The Rams closed out their weekend schedule with a 65-47 win over Lincoln University at Lincoln on Saturday.
Last season, because of the COVID-19 paLast season, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Shepherd was limited to a few scrimmages, but there was some practice and conditioning time available so players could maintain their skill levels.
“It puts us back at some kind of normalcy,” Shepherd coach Jenna Eckelberry said. after the win over Bowie State. “This is what we’ve been waiting for. We had a tease last year when we got to play a couple of scrimmages. These girls came back for a reason and we’re trying to make it special for them.”
In the win over Bowie State, Shepherd spotted the Bulldogs an early, 4-0, lead in the first three minutes of play, but five straight points by Marley McLaughlin over the next minute was all the momentum swing the Rams would need to take control of the game. Shepherd rolled to a 21-13 lead after one quarter and stretched that advantage to 44-23 at halftime.
“I think the key for us this season is doing the exact same thing we did in the 2019-20 season,” Shepherd graduate student Sydney Clayton said.
Clayton, a forward, scored 19 points with 11 rebounds.
“We had a really good year that season,” Clayton said. “We’re still, basically, the same team we had two years ago. So we’re sticking with how we approached that season.”
The Rams approach was controlling the game at both ends of the floor, with an up-tempo offense, stubborn defense and the ability to put together a strong transition game. Shepherd had all of those elements going for it against Bowie State.
The Rams scored 30 of its points in the paint and got 17 more off the transition game. Shepherd led by as much as 23 points the rest of the way.
Graduate student Marley McLaughlin was the leading scorer for the Rams against Bowie State, with 22 points. Abby Beeman, a junior guard, had 10 points with eight rebounds and 12 assists.
Beeman led the Rams in Saturday’s win at Lincoln, scoring 23 points, with nine rebounds and eight assists. Clayton had 21 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
McLaughlin had 17 points.
Shepherd’s men’s basketball team picked up a pair of wins last week on the road.
The Rams defeated Frostburg State, 76-64, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, then turned back a stubborn Lincoln team on Saturday, 78-74.
Shepherd’s men are 3-1 on the year.
Dan McClain-Corley led Shepherd against Frostburg with 20 points. Kyle Daggett had 17 points with eight rebounds. Jon Preston had 12 points with 10 rebounds.
Cam Stephens had 11 points with four assists.
It took strong second-half effort by the Rams to overcome Lincoln on Saturday for the win.
Lincoln held a 40-35 lead at the break, but a quick start by Shepherd turned that deficit around early in the second half. McClain-Corley nailed a 3-pointer to start the second half, then hit a jumper at the 18 minute, 9 second mark to give the Rams the lead for good at that point, 41-40.
McClain-Corley finished with 26 points. Stephens had 20 points with four assists. Preston had 10 points with eight rebounds. Daggett had seven rebounds.